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Icy conditions force police to temporarily close down bypass in Elkhart

Drivers stuck for nearly four hours

December 22, 2010|By Ed Ernstes (ernstes@wsbt.com)

ELKHART COUNTY -- Slick roads and icy conditions caused numerous accidents on the U.S. 20 bypass in Elkhart County Wednesday morning. As a result, a number of drivers were stuck in their cars for hours as emergency crews worked to clear up the scene.

They didn’t seem that bad, but they are really bad,” said Peggy Binkley of Bristol.

That was the feeling of a number of drivers who were on the bypass early Wednesday morning. There were about half-dozen slide-offs and accidents between U.S. 33 and State Road 19 with cars and trucks.

“The roadways, as the precipitation was falling, were freezing pretty quick,” said Patrolman Jeremy Shotts with Elkhart County Police. “A lot of cars didn’t expect it to freeze that fast and as they came along, cars started to slide, as they hit the brakes they started sliding into each other and we had multiple crashes here.”

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Belinda Slabach was headed to Mishawaka with her family.

“We saw cars parked ahead of us, so she hit the brakes to slow down. We weren’t driving that fast,” said Slabach. “We started sliding all over the road. We almost went over the hill.”

As a precaution, police had to shut down the westbound lane of the bypass for over three hours while emergency crews dealt with all the accidents.

“Very slippery, very dangerous, we were on our way to Indianapolis and that’s all the further we got—from Bristol to here,” said Peggy Binkley of Bristol.

A number of drivers we talked to here on the bypass that ended up being stuck in traffic while debris was being cleared say that it appears the slick and hazardous conditions caught a number of drivers off-guard.

“It was pretty slick this morning with the freezing fog, a lot of people said they didn’t realize that it was really that slick,” said Jeff Crussemeyer of Elkhart. “When you get out here and walk on the bypass, you can really tell.”

The bypass re-opened around 10:15 this morning. Police say the road is still slick and that drivers need to be cautious.


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